December 11 2013: This week would have been Grace Hopper’s 107th birthday. Regarded as the ‘mother’ of COBOL, Grace Hopper was one of the great pioneers of the computer age and her work paved the way for today’s computer languages.
Her legacy lives on and so too does COBOL. 200 times more transactions are processed daily by COBOL business applications than there are Google and Youtube searches made – COBOL still dominates the business language world.
To mark the occasion Derek Britton, Product Marketing Director, Micro Focus looks back -- and forward -- at the past, present and future of COBOL
“Grace Hopper was already a well-known pioneer for computing by the time she attended the first Data Systems Languages (CODASYL) conference, a consortium that aimed to guide the development of a standard programming language that could be across multiple computers, in 1959. The output of that meeting was the blueprint for what was to become the COBOL computer language – one of the first modern programming languages.
Hopper had numerous other achievements under her belt. She also developed the first compiler technology, popularised the term ‘debugging’ (which at the time literally meant taking a moth out of a piece of computer circuitry) and her later work on language standards. Combined together, they represent the fundamental building blocks of COBOL language, which continues to thrive today in no small part to her foresight.”
About COBOL in today’s world
“COBOL remains portable, scalable, debuggable, easy to learn, and is the preferred language of business for the vast majority of the global Fortune 100. These fundamental principles can be traced back to Hopper and since 1976; Micro Focus embodies those principles in our COBOL technology. Since then, over 500 platforms have been supported with our portable COBOL technology and we currently support 50 of those platforms today. The COBOL language can be considered the workhorse language for business, with complex arithmetic and large data volumes its ‘bread and butter’ processing capability.
For businesses, a key benefit of COBOL is that it is easier and around four times cheaper to maintain than other mainstream languages. In addition, it also remains one of the easiest languages to learn, read and decipher which is a huge benefit to time-restricted businesses. In fact, one of our own clients had been able to move an entire team of C# experts on to learning and coding in COBOL in roughly an hour. As IT evolves towards a very different looking business need, Micro Focus’ investment in COBOL ensures that customers are always able to bridge between today’s working systems, the mainframe, client server, SOA, and tomorrow’s innovations, whether that be moving to the Cloud or BYOD.
We continue to invest tens of millions of dollars each year in R&D to support COBOL’s current and future users because three quarters of the world’s business transactions still take place in COBOL and there are some 240 billion lines of COBOL still active today.”